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When Attendance at the Trop Dips, Taxpayers on the Hook

Lower attendance numbers, and fewer events at the Trop, added $221,000 to the 2012 budget shortfall.

In 2010 attendance was up at Tropicana Field with more than 1.8 people walking through the turnstiles. High ticket sales aren't just good for the Rays; it is good for the city of St. Petersburg. With each ticket sold, the city gets a tiny slice of the pie. 

Since 2010 the city has set that 2010 attendance number as the baseline ticket revenue expectation. However, in that time span attendance has been down, which means the taxpayer subsidy for the Trop increases. 

During a Monday Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee meeting, city council learned that lower attendance numbers, and fewer events at the Trop, added $221,000 to the 2012 budget shortfall. 

In 2012, the Tampa Bay Rays ranked dead last in Major League Baseball in attendance despite being in the wild card hunt in the final week of the season. 

Mayor Bill Foster said it is not just fewer in attendance at Rays games that caused the higher subsidy, but fewer events — such as concerts — used the Trop in 2012. 

The city said it will use the 2012 attendance numbers as the baseline for revenue projections going forward so staff is not coming back to council next year asking for more money to cover the fiscal year 2013 budget because of Trop revenue adjustments. 

Rays Attendance Last 10 Years:

Year

MLB Rank

Total Attendance

Average Per Game

2003

29

1,058,677

13,070

2004

29

1,275,011

16,139

2005

30

1,152,793

14,232

2006

29

1,370,963

16,925

2007

29

1,387,603

17,130

2008

26

1,780,791

22,259

2009

23

1,874,962

23,147

2010

22

1,843,445

22,758

2011

29

1,529,188

18,878

2012

30

1,559,681

19,255

In a coincidental move Thursday, the Rays announced many ticket prices would either remain the same or see a reduction. For those who carpool, parking will continue to remain free as well. 

The Rays will continue with four categories of single-game ticket pricing: Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver.  Upper Deck seats will cost as little as $10 for 28 of the Rays home games in 2013.  Overall, nearly 80 percent of 2013 Rays games at Tropicana Field will feature ticket prices of $14 or lower.  For Gold games, Outfield prices have dropped from 2012 pricing by nearly 25 percent from $22 to $17.

Earlier this year, during the All-Star break in Kansas City, MLB CommissionerBud Selig called out Rays fans about the poor attendance. 

"To study the attendance figures every day and see that they're 29th in attendance, it's inexcusable," Selig said. "Nobody can defend that. This is a very competitive baseball team. The average Major League attendance is between 31,000 and 32,000. And if my memory is serving me well, Tampa Bay's attendance is around 19-something. It's disappointing."

In related news, StPetePolls released its newest St. Petersburg survey showing a vast majority of St. Petersburg residents oppose the city taking out loans to build a new stadium. 

CJ November 14, 2012 at 03:30 PM
$10 beers is not thrifty. It's not like I want to go there and have a 12 pack....but if I were to have ...say 3 beers...plus eat...you are talking $50 minimum per person just for that...then parking...and what about buying some of the other things for sale there. Your $152 would be the ''not much fun, cheapskate route''...but sadly..it is still too expensive for most people. ''Don't forget'' just how many baseball games there are to go to a year. Some weeks, there are 4 home games. It is a ''lot'' more expensive to go there than you are suggesting. The Rays need people that will come ''often''...not just once a year.
Red November 14, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Sorry CJ Guess my prices are a bit out of date. Just think, I though the OLD prices were too much. No wonder Mittens wanted to hold the party there,. Champagne & fish eggs anyone?
MirrorLakeMan November 14, 2012 at 07:43 PM
If you want to know the future of the Rays, see what is happening to the Miami Marlins. Their franchise threatened to leave, built a new stadium, attendance is still lower, and now the tax payers are on the hook. Want to go down that path?
CJ November 14, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I sure hope they can solve this problem. You will think this is funny, but before we moved here, part of what attracted us to the place was things we saw in some travel books about Florida on things we like. All those books were evidently old and outdated. They mentioned Hockey was at the Trop, it's now gone. We are huge Arena Football fans, it's now gone. Baseball...we love baseball...and now they are talking like it will be gone soon.Obviously we visited the area before we moved and bought here...but we also were quite fond of The Pier...and it's going. There was also the Gandy bridge bicycle Friendship Trail thing...and now it's closed. What does thae leave? Unfortunately for The Trop...it leaves ''countless'' other things to do that are a blast...lol! I think the biggest problem for The Trop is that there are simply too many entertainment choices. I think I know one thing, though...moving to Tampa is not the only solution. They just are not being creative enough. I hope the long time citizens can get it together and keep the Rays at The Trop. I look at it this way...if they can't fill a football stadium for the Bucks, what makes Tampa think they can fill a baseball stadium? We have about the only NFL team that blacks out the games on TV. How about St Pete do ''this'': Turn the tables on this whole topic and build a world class Sports Dome to house ''both'' the Bucs AND the Rays! Now...that is a good idea...but what do I know? I'm new here...lol!
CJ November 14, 2012 at 07:55 PM
no..you are exactly right...we don't I am surprised that thee is not tlak about the Bucs attendance issues right along with this Tropicana/Rays topic. I realize ther are different owners, etc ...but I see an opportunity here to tackle two problems at one time. St Pete and Tampa need to work in better uniity together. It's both Tampa and St Pete ''together'' that makes this a great area...and or course ''all'' the Gulf communities up and down the beach from Passe-A-Grill to Dunedin...and we can't forget the places over the Skyway Bridge. Whew...this place is really something. I know I will die with a smile on my face living here.

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